Hemingway’s novel A Farewell to Arms was published in 1929. It touched several major issues that agitated European society in the first third of the 20th century. The main theme of the work is the First World War. The second major theme is a love story between a lieutenant of a sanitary unit, Frederick Henry, and a nurse Catherine Barkley. Unsightly military weekdays and sincere human feelings provide the author with access to classical artistic perspective – understanding of a man’s place in the world and the identification of important existential constants like war and peace, life and death, faith and disbelief.
The protagonist is the officer, who is an intelligent person. Why an American is in the midst of a European war, it seems, he does not even know himself. Living in Italy, he decides that it is better to side with the people, to whom he was accustomed, than to return home and engage in meaningless activities in the preparatory military camp. On the front he has a real business and now feels more alive. Here, he has friends, girl-friend, and job. But everything changes when Catherine enters Henry’s life. When he has something to live for, he leaves the battlefield to deal with the only thing that interests him – to eat, drink, and sleep with his girlfriend.
The range of problems in the novel connected with the theme of love is devoid of a particular conflict. Nobody and nothing prevents Henry and Catherine to enjoy each other’s company. The only thing that always puts the characters into a dead end – is life and natural circumstances they easily overcome. Catherine’s feelings towards Henry are sacrificial in nature. From her husband she only needs love and loyalty, the rest does not interest her. Catherine is easily reconciled with the position of being his mistress, a woman waiting for a child outside of marriage, the wife of a deserter, etc. She is ready to do everything to make Henry happy. She is so happy with it that she does not need the world. Henry fully supports her in this. They are bored in the company of other people, finding life wholeness only alone with each other.
Love of the characters of the novel is permeated by a premonition of disaster. Catherine says to her lover that she thinks everything bad is going to happen to them. And so it happens. Although Henry concludes his separate peace and defects from the army to flee with his girlfriend in neutral Switzerland, where they enjoy the silence and peace, the fate overtakes them – Catherine dies in childbirth.
The novel is a love story at the level of individual fates, but also a story about the search for meaning and confidence in the world.
Hemingway’s novel A Farewell to Arms was published in 1929. It touched several major issues that agitated European society in the first third of the 20th century. The main theme of the work is the First World War. The second major theme is a love story between a lieutenant of a sanitary unit, Frederick Henry, and a nurse Catherine Barkley.